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Google previews next-gen 3D video chat booth

Project Starline
Project Starline (Google)

The system is called 'Project Starline.' 

Tech giant Google is working on a next-gen video chat booth that makes the person a user is chatting with appear in front of them in 3D. The system is called 'Project Starline,' which is a fancy video chat setup.

According to The Verge, one can see the other person from different angles by moving around and even make eye contact, Google said during a preview of the project at its I/O conference on Wednesday.

'Project Starline' uses multiple cameras and sensors to capture a person's appearance and shape from different perspectives. It then stitches those together into a 3D model that is broadcast in real-time to whomever they are chatting with.

As reported by The Verge, in Google's preview, Starline was used for person-to-person calls (not group chats), and both sides seemed to be using specialised tech so it could all work.

In a demo video, people using the tech describe seeing people like they were in the same room together. It's "as if she was right in front of me," one person says.

Right now the system is big. It appears to be an entire booth, complete with lights, cameras, and a bench to sit on. Google says it relies on "custom-built hardware and highly specialised equipment."

The Verge quoted a report by 4Wired stating that the booth contains more than a dozen different depth sensors and a 65-inch 'light field display' to make people appear in 3D. Light field tech has popped up in some promising applications over the past decade, but it's yet to catch on as a way to present people clearly in 3D.

The video chat booth is currently only available in "a few" of Google's offices, and it plans on testing the tech with business partners later in the year.

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